I'm an asexual, ask me anything: Smith's to host panel discussion

It's a hypersexualised world we live in. Whether it's fashion labels or certain real estate developments around town pushing their products with sexual imagery, or people being motivated by the allure of gettin' some, sex is everywhere we turn.

But for some individuals, sex isn't everything. They're the 'A' in LGBTIQA. They're asexuals.

Jenni Atkinson is on the panel for this year's 'Asexuality: ask me anything" event. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Jenni Atkinson is on the panel for this year's 'Asexuality: ask me anything" event. Photo: Jamila Toderas

This Sunday at Smith's Alternative, for Asexual Awareness Week, a panel of local "aces" (asexuals) will be sharing their experiences and answering all your questions.

Madeleine Tranter, the organiser of the event and someone who identifies as an asexual, says asexuality isn't easily defined.

"In its simplest form, asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction. But asexuality is often forgotten or not understood. A lot of people don't know it exists.

"It's a huge umbrella. That includes demisexuality, when people are only sexually attracted to people they've formed a deep emotional connection with, and grey asexuality, so when you're only very occasionally sexually attracted to someone. So maybe once or twice a year.

"Because it's so varied and wide, there can be a lot of misunderstanding. "

Tranter ran the event last year and received such a positive response that she created Facebook Group A.C.T Aces to form a community for locals under the asexual umbrella. It's since grown to 66 members.

While their group is mostly women or non-binary people, she says this isn't generally the case outside of Canberra.

"There seems to be a pretty even representation in international groups, but I think it might be sometimes easier for women to acknowledge their asexuality than men.

"We live in such a hypsersexualised society, and in terms of toxic masculinity, if a man admits he isn't really into sex, it's a bit taboo still. Especially for teen guys growing up, it must be hard."

She hopes that events like these will help open up the conversation for people who might not be certain about their asexuality.

"The event is there also for allies. So if any family or friends might know someone under the ace umbrella, they might be able to bring them along. Or head them in the direction of our group. It might help that person feel a little more accepted.

"Questions can be anything and everything, so long as they're coming from a genuine want to understand more.

"I highly encourage people to ask whatever question, no matter how taboo it might seem. It's the only way to learn and clear things up. We're not amoebas who reproduce by splitting ourselves into two."

Tranter will be joined by three panellists on Sunday. One will be local IT consultant and asexual, Jenni Atkinson.

Atkinson only recently came out as asexual, but admits she's been experimenting with her sexuality for a long time.

"I've tried lots of different things with lots of different people in the past, but there was never a sexual attraction. I understand why people look desirable, but I don't get that chemical reaction.

"For many people of my generation, for so long, it hasn't been known that asexuality is an option. But I've come to learn that about 1 per cent of the population are similar to me."

Atkinson is keen to help clear up some of the mystery surrounding asexuality. So, what's it like being an ace in a relationship?

Atkinson is happy by herself, but views approaching new relationships as difficult when sex is typically expected. She admits she could see herself in an "asexual commune" one day because she's keen on relationships in a "companionship sense".

And what about physical contact? "I love hugs. I'm a hugging monster. But I'm not interested in kissing. Whether that's down to a phobia, I don't know."

Smith's Alternative, Civic. Sunday October 21, 2pm. Free. More information here: smithsalternative.com.